Don’t hold your breathe waiting for Al-Jazeera

When I was in California a month and a half ago I wrote to local cable provider Comcast, asking them to provide Al-Jazeera English. It really seems like some kind of political decision that they don’t want to let in this alternative voice. Perhaps they fear being labeled as soft on terror, which is silly.

Al-Jazeera is very objective, and provides great coverage of the Third World. The same cannot be said of Fox News, which is very right wing, the voice of the Rupert Murdoch and the Tea Party.

But hardly anyone in the US gets a chance to find out how good Al-Jazeera is.

I fInally got an answer from Comcast Customer Service today, weeks later:

I understand that you are requesting Al Jazeera English programming be added to your Comcast channel lineup.

Comcast is always working to provide programming that is of interest to all of our customers. In certain markets, Comcast offers international packages, some of which include Arabic programming; but we do not have an agreement with Al Jazeera English, so we cannot carry their programming. However, Al Jazeera English’s programming may be viewed via live stream from their web site: http://english.aljazeera.net

We regularly examine our channel lineups and talk with a wide range of programmers to ensure that we are bringing the content that our customers want the most. Our goal is to provide a wide choice of quality cable networks and local broadcast channels reflecting the diverse programming interests of our customers. In addition to requests from customers, the following factors play a part in our decision making process:

* FCC regulations, such as requirements to carry all local broadcast channels
* Requirement by local broadcasters to carry their affiliated cable networks
* The number of access channels required by local government
* Customer satisfaction with networks carried in other systems
* Customer satisfaction with similar networks
* Importance of the network to our diverse community
* Level of interest across a percentage of our customer base
* Per-subscriber programming fees charged by the network versus the value added to the line-up.

Your feedback is important to us. While we cannot honor every request, we do take each request into consideration in planning future changes to the lineup.

Naturally this is very disappointing. It is also extremely misleading, Al-Jazeera is pleading to get its programming on in the US. See:

http://www.aljazeera.com/demandaljazeera/

And while it is true one can watch Al-Jazeera English on the web (as well as via apps on an iPhone or iPad), this isn’t the same as seeing it on your TV, and the same argument could be used to pull Fox News off cable and refer interested viewers to their website.

Note: Not only can you watch Al-Jazeera English live at http://www.aljazeera.com/watch%5Fnow/ , if you watch it through an ios device, you can play it through an Apple TV onto your television.

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